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Ford Focus EV Mule - Click above for high-res gallery

The U.S. Department of Energy has finally announced the first recipient of low interest loans under its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentive Program. The first recipient is Ford, and analysts believe the DoE will award sums to Nissan and Tesla Motors, as well. Ford applied for up to $11 billion in loans, but instead it was awarded $5.9 billion in financing. The Dearborn-based automaker will use the money to fund its electric vehicle program that will launch a battery-powered version of the Transit Connect in 2010, and it will also likely use the capital to help pay for the $550 million renovation of its Wayne, MI sport-utility plant to build the next-generation Focus in both internal combustion and electric flavors.

For its part, Nissan wants to add production of its upcoming electric car and lithium ion batteries at its assembly complex in Smyrna, Tennessee, and it will receive $1.6 billion.

Despite receiving the smallest sum of the three automakers, Tesla is arguably the biggest winner this round, as the $465 million it may receive will allow the fledgeling EV maker to proceed with completing development and production of its Model S sedan. Recent investment in the company by Daimler was probably a big help in getting the loan approved, as companies had to demonstrate viability. And since the ATVM program favors re-tooling of older existing plants, Tesla will probably look at acquiring a closed factory from another company. Recent rumors had the company possibly getting a former McDonnell-Douglas factory in Long Beach, although there are plenty of other properties available.

The current Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings at General Motors and Chrysler made those companies ineligible in the current round. It's not known if any announcements will be made about loans for battery makers like A123 or EnerDel.

Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Do i hear the sound of a toilette flushing?.........Hey my paycheck is lighter for some reason.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ya I'm sure that $465 million to Tesla won't go into meeting current order commitments and paying lawyers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It should be noted that these loans/grants began talks in 2007.
      • 6 Years Ago
      a lot of dummies here bitching and moaning about the gubment. well guess what? you're driving on gubment funded roads through highway grants, etc. no government, no great american car culture you have wet dreams about.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nissan was the first auto manufacturer in the world to commercially sell an electric vehicle. It's not well known, yet at least, that Nissan has been developing zero emission vehicles for quite sometime, long before there was any energy crisis. And Nissan is working with NEC right now to mass produce Lithium batteries that yield 300 miles a charge. In 2011, and by 2012 Nissan will be selling 6 to 9 Electric vehicles in the US. The will have a larger selection than the big 3, and are setting themselves up to produce and sell these vehicles cheaper than the competition making them affordable for most people. In case you have not noticed, Nissan retain their value very well and represent a smart investment for car buyers, not to mention many Nissan's now offer the lowest lease deals in N. America. With the upcoming addition of the NV2500, Nissan is poised to eat more market share by all it's competitors and it's simply because they have the right vision and leadership, backed by hundred of thousands of Americans, who build, sell and service these vehicles.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Okay, Ford can no longer say they aren't on the government teat. $6B is a lot of cash.

      I do hope thought that Ford repays their loans, unlike GM.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Matt - check
        whynotwhatever - check
        so now we only need to wait for TriShield and we're complete
      • 6 Years Ago
      "And since the ATVM program favors re-tooling of older existing plants" That's great to hear. Makes no sense to build new plants with so many existing ones vacant.
        • 6 Years Ago
        TC...he was talking about the US Government being completely irresponsible with spending under the Obama administration.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Jeff Johnson
        How is this being terrible with money?

      • 6 Years Ago
      More wasted tax payer money.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ignorant folks out there, This is money that's going to subsidizing Advanced Technology I.e. Alternative Fuel like Electric or Hydrogen or whatever, It's a LOAN people that has to be paid back in with Interest, It is not Bail-Out Money.. Government is trying Jump Start this sector because we as Americans are so dependent on Fossil Fuel like a Crack Addict is to Crack.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Y'know, this spending could come in handy someday. Like when gas reaches some outrageous price because the supply is dwindling. You would think people could grasp this concept. But, sadly, some don't...
      • 6 Years Ago
      If electric and hybrid cars are such a great emerging market with excellent profit potential, why can't these companies get loans from private sources (i.e banks and funds not under the thumb of TARP)? Seems to me someone would want to throw money at a project with potential for great returns in this market.
      • 6 Years Ago
      so at what point do we realize "hey we are 10 trillion on debt, let's stop spending money we don't have"

      you know when you are terrible with money, they take your credit cards and check book away, why hasn't anyone done that with Uncle Sam?
        • 6 Years Ago
        When you are low on money, you cut costs such as protecting countries you don't care for just because they have the resource that runs your economy. The sooner your economy is less dependent upon those resources, the sooner you can reduce your protection expenses and being that it is a loan, the money will come back.
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